By Jake Seiner, DFP Staff/Photo by Sarah Gordon, DFP Staff
Despite losing five of its eight top scorers and its top defensive pairing, the 2009-10 version of the Boston University men’s hockey team is still the team to beat in Hockey East, according to the conference’s coaches.
The Terriers took home six of the nine first-place votes up for grabs in the Hockey East preseason coaches poll –– BU coach Jack Parker was not
permitted to vote for his own team. The other four first-place votes were split evenly between the University of Massachusetts-Lowell and Boston College.
“I think it’s realistic that we should be picked in the top two, three or four teams in the league,” Parker said. “I don’t know if I would have picked myself number one if I were picking a team, but I think it’s realistic with us coming back with a real strong group.”
Lowell, who the Terriers defeated, 1-0, in the Hockey East Tournament finals, took the second spot in the coaches poll. The Riverhawks return nearly their entire starting roster from a year ago, including their top-seven scorers and 84 percent of their total scoring from 2008-09.
Parker, for one, thinks Lowell’s ranking is very well deserved.
“I picked them the number one team,” Parker said. “They have almost everybody back and I think they have something like  seniors on their club. They had a great second half last year including almost knocking us off, knocking Northeastern off –– knocking them out in the playoffs. They had a terrific second half of the year and they’re ready to win something big.”
While earning the top spot is a sign of respect for the Terriers, it doesn’t necessarily change BU’s outlook heading into the season, according to Parker.
“I don’t think anybody’s worried about having a target on our back,” he said. “After our first game at [the University of Massachusetts-Amherst], things will be different. . .You start earning points this year when you start playing real games.”
Parker addresses movement of banner raising
The Athletic Department’s announcement that the raising of championship banner for the 2008-09 team would take place on Oct. 10 against the US National Under-18 squad has stirred a bit of controversy in Terrier Nation.
It was initially announced that the ceremony would take place before the Oct. 20 regular-season home opener against the No. 5 University of Notre Dame. The move means the ceremony will instead occur before a preseason game, and not before the nationally-televised Notre Dame game –– the game will be broadcast on ESPNU.
The decision to move the raising was made by Parker himself, despite concerns from some of the BU fan base, because the coach thought the move would help avoid any distractions created by reminders of last year’s title campaign
“I wanted to get rid of last year, and we would have already played a regular season game against UMass, so that was a difficult situation,” Parker said. “We wanted to get all the fanfare about that our of the way before we played an actual game. And we do have a couple of big recruits we’re recruiting on the national team, and it’ll be nice to have them in the building while we’re doing that.
“I know there were people upset with me on that because they had made plans to go away that weekend, but the banners will still be there when they come back.”
The Boston Hockey Blog caught up with BU coach Jack Parker for his reaction to the Terriers earning the top spot in the Hockey East preseason coaches poll, and more…
“It’s going to be real difficult to try to look at who’s going to be a top-four team or who’s going to win the league or who’s [sic] the two teams that are out of the playoffs,” Parker said. “I do think the two teams that will take the biggest jump from last year are Maine and BC. BC took a big fall last year and weren’t expected to. I think that’ll spur them on to be a real good team.
“I think Maine had a real solid second half. They didn’t win a lot of games but they played much, much better in the second half. They really got good at the end of the year so I think they’ll really be a team to be reckoned with.
“I think the league was correct in picking Lowell so high. I picked them the number one team –– you can’t vote for yourself so I picked them the number one team. They have almost everybody back and I think they have something like  seniors on their club. They had a great second half last year including almost knocking us off, knocking Northeastern off –– knocking them out in the playoffs. They had a terrific second half of the year and they’re ready to win something big.”
Parker on being picked as Hockey East favorites:
“I don’t think this team needs any more confidence. I think it’s realistic that we should be picked in the top two, three or four teams in the league –– I don’t know if I would have picked myself number one if I were picking a team, but I think it’s realistic with us coming back with a real strong group coming back.
“I don’t think anybody’s worried about having a target on our back. We aren’t the number one team this year and after our first game at UMass, things will be different. . .You start earning points this year when you start playing real games.”
Parker on putting last year’s championship campaign in the past:
“We’ve done a little bit by playing a little bit more before the season’s started. Before we finally play a real game at UMass we will have a couple of exercises, a couple of people coming in to talk to the team and a couple of other things we’re going to do to keep people focused on the objective at hand and not the product of last year.”
Parker on captains Kevin Shattenkirk, Eric Gryba and Nick Bonino as leaders:
“They’ll do a terrific job for two reasons. One, they want to win, and secondly, they had great role models last year. They were really in tune to what those guys were doing. And I think they helped those captains last year. A lot of leadership was in those three guys on last year’s team. I think just putting the C and the As on their shirts will help them recognize their role, but they already had that role last year.”
Parker on the moving of the banner raising to Oct. 10 vs. the US National U-18 Team:
“Yeah that was my decision and I think a lot of people were upset by that because they heard originally it was going to be the first regular season home game. There were three reasons for that: One, I wanted to get rid of last year, and we would have already played a regular season game against UMass, so that was a difficult situation and we wanted to get all the fanfare about that out of the way before we played an actual game.
“And we do have a couple of big recruits we’re recruiting on the national team, and it’ll be nice to have them in the building while we’re doing that. I know there were people upset with me on that because they had made plans to go away that weekend, but the banners will still be there when they come back.”
Parker on expectations of the freshmen:
“They’re some expected to fill big roles and some expected to fill smaller roles but they’re all expected to contribute. It remains to be seen who those some guys are. It’s amazing because sometimes you think this guy will be the. . .guy right off the bat, but then this guy steps up.
“The telltale sign of our success this year will be our sophomores stepping up. Will the freshman line last year –– I don’t think they’ll play together –– but the freshman line from last year was very important to our team last year and they become more important this year. All the other sophomores who didn’t play a lot as freshman last year, well they become real important to us, and the new freshman will really have to jump over those guys.”
Parker on starting the year with UMass, Notre Dame, Michigan and two games with UMass-Lowell:
“We could be 0-5 after that. I know we won’t be 5-0. I think it’s real tough. I’d be very happy if we’re over .500 after those five games. Those are five real good teams. Two of them are real tough places to play at UMass and UMass-Lowell. We’ll have our hands full. Last year, we started off with North Dakota, Michigan State and Michigan, too, so we’ll see how it all unfolds.”
List of televised BU games:
2009-2010 Hockey East preseason coaches poll:
The Boston University men’s hockey team was ranked third in the preseason USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Poll, which was released Monday afternoon. The Terriers received 12 first-place votes and 438 points to place them behind Miami University (457 points) and the University of Denver (455). Three other Hockey East teams cracked the top 15 — UMass-Lowell (10th), Boston College (12th) and the University of Vermont (15th).
Welcome to The Boston Hockey Blog, the official hockey blog of The Daily Free Press. We’ll be covering everything related to the Boston University men’s hockey team, every Boston Bruins home game and a lot of BU women’s hockey. We’ll drop the puck on our coverage this Wednesday with Hockey East media day and follow up with a live blog from the Bruins’ season opener on Thursday.